Friday, April 06, 2007
more on the disappearing muse
Walking around each day in a life I’ve created from wholesale weavings of air and promise, I should feel luckier than I do. I have to ask myself why gratitude sometimes gives way to feelings of guilt, unworthiness, narcissism and pain. And yet these feelings, which historically have led to productive creative work, are not moving me thus at this point in time.
I eek out a living playing “office” and engaging in moderate wordsmithing. What could be more fun than that? I have three wonderful, albeit challenging, children. I have a great little bungalow with a large sunny yard in a part of town where I feel very much a part of the community. The aesthetics are perfect. My neighbors are perfect. My boyfriend is perfect. And therein lies the rub? Not enough drama? Not enough misery?
For more than a dozen years I mined a dysfunctional primary relationship to fuel my passion for the page. I built several manuscripts around the impossibility of loving a man who courted disaster and chaos with a limited capacity for reality. It was a brand of love that I equated with feeling—with embracing what for me has always been elusive: the spectrum of emotion. All of the emotion, the ROYGBIV of emotion. And I got used to turning inward, examining it via discordant, self-indulgent, satisfying prose and poetry.
I come from a tradition of writing that promises transformation via staring down the demons. Resurrection by plunging through the murky, dangerous and dark water with unflinching faith. And those moments of clarity that come from that? The cracks where the light comes through? They are heavenly. If glimpses of one’s own humanity (and by extension, the human condition) are the grand prize, then the practice of writing in this vein is worth the price of admission. But. Just because you peeked at God, doesn’t mean you get to stay there.
I’m spending lots of time with a sane man these days. Someone from the right side of the tracks, as it were. And I’m happy. But, damn it, I don’t know how to write as a happy person. Where is my edge? Do I have to look in new places for it? Am I destined to become a landscape fiction writer—the type often paired with scribblings from the Pacific Northwest? Am I going to have to learn to write heavily descriptive prose about eagles, rivers, rocky coastlines and shit?
I feel as though I’ve consigned my muse to some sort of personality subversion. Brain surgery or serotonin reuptake inhibitors. My muse is on anti-depressants! She’s choosing to shed her goth clothes, her multiple piercings, her penchant for dark rooms and clove cigarettes. Suzy Vitello is being kicked out of the church basement of folding chairs and into a functional world of normative, sensible, rational grown-ups, where chaos is the exception.
It’s a lovely day out there today. Just lovely. There are no cracks—only light, and the slight ennui that's buffering my thorough enjoyment is a faint, faint shadow.